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Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Untitled, 2007.

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung


Molly Zuckerman-Hartung’s erratic paintings suggest some inner turmoil: Except for a few portraits, these are frenzied experiments with texture, form and shape that prove there is a fine line between mesmerizing abstractions and senseless blobs.

The childlike quality of the Chicago-based artist’s paintings and their debts to Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism make them reminiscent of Paul Klee’s, but placing their work in the same category wouldn’t be fair to Klee.Keeping things as ambiguous as possible, Zuckerman-Hartung does not title any of her pieces. One painting looks like what happens when a kid scribbles in crayon using clashing colors, covers the whole mess with black crayon and then scratches out lines using a coin. Here, orange blobs invade from behind, mixed in with blue, green and yellow squiggles shooting every which way.

Another emphasizes thick coats of aqua-colored oil paint that, after drying, take on the texture of wrinkly skin. They’re surrounded by washes of beige tones, light purple mixed in with blue, pink, orange and other colors.

The link between Zuckerman-Hartung’s technique and her meaning never becomes clear. Since “She-male Guitar Solo” has no coherent narrative or themes, its content mainly seems to depend on how much paint the artist had on hand. Though it’s uncertain whether Zuckerman-Hartung made these paintings in one spontaneous swoop or methodically over a period of time, her color palette and indistinct forms are more charming than those found in finger paintings—but not by much.

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